Earlier this week, WW reported a new federal lawsuit that could bring final resolution to the long-running battle over the Langdon Farms Golf Course, which is located on I-5 in Aurora just south of the Willamette River.
That conflict could become a major issue in the two of the most interesting races to watch between now and the Nov. 6 general election, the contests for Clackamas County Commission. In the race for county chair, incumbent Charlotte Lehan faces former Wilsonville mayor John Ludlow; in position four, incumbent Jamie Damon faces former State Rep. Tootie Smith (R-Mollala).
The challengers both enjoyed strong financial support from the conservative Oregon Transformation Project and in many ways, the races are referenda on light rail and "Portland creep."
But the golf course fight could bring big money into both races. Brothers Chris and Tom Maletis, who own Langdon Farms and who made their money distributing Budweiser and other beers, are keen golfers. They would also very much like to get approval to convert Langdon Farms, 385 relatively flat acres close to I-205, the Aurora airport and existing I-5 exits, into commericial use. The site has been a golf course since 1995.
When she was mayor of Wilsonville, Lehan was a leader in the opposition to Metro, the regional government that controls the Urban Growth Boundary, to allow Langdon Farms to be developed commercially.
Convincing the Clackamas County Commission to back them would be an important step for the Maletis brothers to get Metro to re-consider its 2004 decision to keep Langdon Farms outside the UGB.
In the May primary, state filings show that Chris Maletis contributed a total of $22,000 to five different Clackamas County Commission candidates, including $5,000 to Ludlow and $2,500 to Smith. It's a safe bet that he and other business interests who'd like to see Langdon Farms developed will be backing Ludlow and Smith this fall.
To put that Maletis' primary spending in perspective, Lehan spent just $88,000 on her campaign between this year and last and Damon, just $53,000.